Are there a lot of people in your life that you trust? Or have you been burned once too often to offer your trust to others?
A memory jumped into my head when I started to think about the subject of trust.
Can you picture a playground teeter-totter, also known as a see- saw? In case you are not familiar with them I’ll give you a quick explanation. Imagine a long board placed over a mid-point pivot (think fulcrum) with handles near each end. It’s meant for two people, usually children. One sits at one end and holds on to the handle that span the width of the board. The other child sits at the opposite end hanging on to their own handle.
At rest, one end of the teeter-totter sits on the ground, while the other end is up in the air, so the two children need to hold the board parallel to the ground, throw their legs over the board, hang on to the handles and balance there. Then one child pushes off the ground and rises upward while the other child falls downward, requiring them to bend their knees. After a moment the downward child pushes upward causing the upward child to fall toward the ground. The cycle is repeated over and over until at least one child tires of the game.
A discovery may occur to one or both of the children. The closer they sit to the middle, the less height they get. This is the safest position but offers very little excitement. The further the children get to the ends of the board the higher they go and the greater the thrill.
Here’s the trust part.
If a child decides to get off quickly when they are at the low point, the child at the peak crashes to earth in a free fall. From experience I can tell you this can be quite painful. At first, you’re shocked and weightless, then you realize there’s no way to land easily, no matter how strong your legs are.
Here’s another thing that happens.
It challenges your friendship.
While at the peak of your teeter-totter experience you were completely defenseless and the child at the other end, who could protect you, let you fall. A total breach of playground etiquette.
And dangerous for you.
It seems to me that there are lots of situations in life just like this.
You come to rely on an expected level of care from others. You may feel it is implied and doesn’t need to be defined or formally agreed to. It ought to just happen that others are concerned about you and try to help you, especially if they are your family or friends.
I wonder about lots of things. It’s just the way my mind works. I usually let it go and try to follow its path. In this case it led me to looking up the definition of the word ‘trust’. I discovered it’s both a noun and a verb. As a noun it’s an idea, as a verb it’s an action.
It represents a belief in someone or something’s reliability, truth, ability or strength.
How do you decide to trust someone? Do they have to have a track record with you of previously proven support?
Does your trust evaporate if they fail to meet your expectations? Do you base your level of trust of others on how trustworthy you think you are?
I find it challenging to answer these questions. I’m struck by the tenuous principles involved in trusting. I wonder which elements I need to see and feel before I extend my trust. I wonder too, what others need or want from me prior to giving me their trust.
Perhaps the answer is simpler than I might think. Perhaps it’s not about anyone else but me. Not about their actions or intentions, but all about how I want to live in this world.
Do I want the safe ride in the middle of the teeter-totter or the thrill ride, living the fullest life offered? It’s possible I might get hurt, but it’s also possible I will find rich rewards through trusting.
I guess it’s a decision offered to each of us. I hope the one you make brings you joy.